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Monday, November 19, 2007

To Read or Not to Read

You can listen to this short article at All Things Considered on NPR: Reading Study Shows Remarkable Decline in U.S.

And read about it here:

To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence

just one excerpt:

All of the data suggest how powerfully reading transforms the lives of individuals— whatever their social circumstances. Regular reading not only boosts the likelihood of an individual’s academic and economic success—facts that are not especially surprising—but it also seems to awaken a person’s social and civic sense. Reading correlates with almost every measurement of positive personal and social behavior surveyed. It is reassuring, though hardly amazing, that readers attend more concerts and theater than non-readers, but it is surprising that they exercise more and play more sports—no matter what their educational level. These cold statistics confirm something that most readers know but have mostly been reluctant to declare as fact— books change lives for the better.

Whether or not the study is flawed (as some have suggested), it covers such an important aspect of a culture that it deserves attention.

And, Carl, did you realize this? I'm sure you did, and I've just missed it, but it is such a "good thing." More reason for the networks to allow the writers their due and get on with the process because I need more Joss Whedon.


  1. I blogged on this topic today too.

  2. I wish I liked Eliza Dushku more, but I'm thrilled Joss is back. :)

  3. Interesting study. I like the conclusion that reading correlates with so many good things!

  4. Chris - I suspect that readers everywhere are paying attention to the study and that the conclusions will create many discussions. Of course, that is kind of like preaching to the choir, isn't it?

    Susan -- Of course, I really wish it were the Firefly crew, but I'm open to anything Whedonesque!

    Dorothy -- Schools need to make the most of the positive benefits associated with readers. I think online book clubs or school assigned reading that blogged discussions might increase interest.

  5. We had a report in the UK two years back that said much the same thing and also bewailed the fact that children were no longer reading for enjoyment. The irony was that it was made by the very people who had destroyed reading for pleasure by introducing the Literacy Hour and making it impossible to read more than two page extracts with children. So, don't be too hopeful that your report will change anything. The news about Joss Whedon is much much better.

  6. Ann - I simply cannot imagine a life without books. The very thought is enough to make me uneasy. Yet many people never know that pleasure, that satisfaction.

    I'm not familiar with the Literacy Hour and two page extracts... Could you explain that further? Is it some kind of "dumbing down" of material?
    If so, we do much the same in many ways here in America.

    Segue -- One of the things that I enjoyed most about Joss Whedon's work, especially Angel: all the embedded literary and cultural tidbits. All kinds of allusions that only some of the audience, those who were well-read, would recognize and get. Part of the fun was catching all the allusions and feeling "in the know."

  7. Yes, JenClair, I had heard this the other day and I am so excited, both because it is more Whedon and also because Tru Calling made me a huge Eliza Dushku fan. I loved that show and was saddened that it ended just as it was hitting its stride in the story.

    Love the quote about reading. 'books change lives forever'...Amen!!!

  8. Carl -- I knew you wouldn't have missed the possibility of a new Joss Whedon!

  9. I have way too many Firefly loving friends and Buffy loving friends to allow this kind of info to go by unnoticed. Not sure who pointed it out to me, but it was certainly hot off the presses when they did. LOL!